Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Ideology Dividing Society from Christ

Dr Peter Saunders of Christian Medical Comment had a very interesting post recently. In it he noted that when ideology drives medical science an intellectual dishonesty results. I think he has an excellent point.

It certainly seems that the link between abortion and breast cancer (as demonstrated by a number of studies) is not being acknowledged in modern gynaecological medicine, and that there is psychological opposition to ‘Change Therapy’; a treatment for unwanted same-sex attraction (here), probably based on the idea that homosexuals are ‘born that way’ (n fact, no biological evidence for this has been scientifically established. I fact, studies of identical twins strongly suggest there is no biological cause). Quite obviously, when links between abortion and cancer are ignored or treatments for disordered inclinations opposed by ‘professionals’, the average secular person simply goes along with the professional voices while militant atheists use them as leverage for bringing about legislation which is contrary to science and to common sense.

Is it not the case that practicing medicine and formulating legislation in accord with ideologies rather than natural law has allowed millions of babies to be discarded in the IVF process? Is it not the case that this has given rise to women not being properly informed about the link between breast cancer and abortion as demonstrated by several studies? Is it not the case that society has been hoodwinked into accepting homosexuality on the false premise that it is something with which they are born? As a result of ideology-driven medicine and legislation, the prosecution of good Christian people for their faith has begun. Note the prosecution of the hoteliers who refused to accept bookings by same-sex pairings (here); the sacking of a Registrar because she could not register same-sex associations as marriage (here); the disciplining of airline stewards and nurses etc. for wearing a crucifix (here). All this points to the tolerant society being intolerant of Christianity, and intolerance is in fact bigotry; a small-mindedness that refuses to allow others the right of conscience. When it is backed up by legislation we have oppressive legislative practice; persecution of Christians by prosecution in the courts.

It all comes back to the ideology known as person-centred theory, which has spread through society like a poison. In this theory the focus is on the self and the desires of the ego, which is intrinsically anti-other and therefore anti-society. It cannot be otherwise when the basic thrust of person-centred theory is the unholy trinity of “I, Me and Myself”; the “what I think; I feel, I need is my right, otherwise I am being oppressed”. Legislation and medical practice which acquiesce to the ‘unholy trinity’ only promotes and protects the chaos and disorder we see in modern society. Socio-political philosophy must critically re-consider the “I me myself” ideologies, taking full note of the societal chaos resulting from the implementation of the person-centred ideology from which it springs.

Meanwhile, those claiming to seek and promote “the tolerant society” must give up what many see as their hypocrisy and practice tolerance toward Christians and others of faith.

Friday, 18 April 2014

A Few Moral Questions In Modern Health Care Practice

Ever since the case of the Catholic Midwives in Scotland (LINK) I have become concerned that devout Catholics might have to exclude themselves from the core Health Care professions (medicine, nursing and pharmacy) if conscience rights are not upheld. It is already difficult for them to practice as serious Catholics and as medics, nurses and pharmacists because they inevitably meet grave moral matter and must have conscience rights if they are to opt out.

It is right that professionals refuse to prescribe and dispense contraceptives; not only because they have abortifacient actions but because contraception is gravely wrong per se. But while contraceptives can be morally prescribed and dispensed for a woman with menstrual problems the contraceptive property is often an intended second action –can a serious Catholic ever prescribe or dispense chemical contraceptives in such cases? And will our Catholic professionals ever be obliged to do so?

Certainly many sound Catholics refer patients to a colleague, but another question arises: is it morally acceptable to refer patients on for services gravely contrary to the moral law? It seems akin to saying, “I can’t give you a lift home because I don’t drink and drive but N. does, so you might ask him/her”. Cooperation is remote and indirect in referrals, but are we guilt-free simply by passing the prescribing or dispensing responsibility on in this way?

Then there are Care Pathways for the dying. Now it is absolutely right, good and necessary to give opiates in necessary dosages to those suffering intractable, severe pain (please see end note) because the intention is to relieve the pain and anxiety, but are dosages increased precipitously without checking if smaller increases would ease the pain sufficiently for the patient to continue living in a pain-free state without excessive respiratory depression? (This question inevitably arises if we have a high percentage of people dying within 24-48 hours of an infusion being established). I have even seen such Pathways used with a Stroke victim where pain is not an issue –can this be moral at all? Finally, is withdrawing fluids ever morally justified? 500mls of fluid per day is lost simply by breathing to say nothing of the loss via the skin and urinary output, so a 500mls infusion over 24hours will not actually add respiratory or cardiac problems (and removal of fluids will not decrease any such problems), so an infusion of 500mls over 24 hours will only sustain life with comfort, not extend life, while removal of such fluids will not diminish any problems and may increase discomfort.

Those who are not part of the core health care professions must seek to ensure that practitioners in these professions have a right of refusal to cooperate with or facilitate by active referrals any act gravely contrary to the moral law (such as contraception, abortion, IVF., gender reassignment etc). We need as many sound Catholics as possible in these professions and we must make it possible for them to practice by supporting their conscience rights in our everyday conversations; by communicating with the media on pertinent topics and by petitioning Governments to ensure conscientious objection is respected and enshrined in law. We are told that patients must have non-directive counselling in order to preserve their autonomy and conscience, but what about the autonomy and conscience of the practitioner? Non-directive theory (contradictorily) directs them to put their own autonomy and conscience aside.

End Note: I do not want anyone to be troubled over the death of a loved one who had an infusion established, so I must point out that it would be morally wrong to withhold such infusions from those who are dying since it allows for a continuous pain-and-anxiety-free journey towards death. The questions arising with such infusions concern the “when” and “how much” in that journey. Remember it is entirely possible that even a single dose of an opiate may relax the dying person enough that they allow themselves to die; it does not mean their life was ended by a single injection. Many factors have to be taken into account when establishing a Pathway infusion and it is on getting the balance right that this discussion is focused.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Re-labelling Evil as Good

There are words and terminologies in use today which hide the evil of sin and present certain evils as “goods that ought to be achieved”. This presentation of evil as a good has the effect of making good appear evil, which means we as Catholics have to be much more precise in our language than we currently are, and require it of others. With words re-labelling sin as a good becoming part of everyday vocabulary, many people have lost the sense of evil and sin. It is appalling that the education of Catholics in the Faith has been so poor they too fail to recognise -and thus unconsciously cooperate with- sin and evil. For example, some Catholic teachers have no problem giving sex education to young children; some Catholic medics have no problem prescribing death-dealing contraceptives or dangerous drugs to the dying in ‘Care Pathways’; some Catholic Counsellors have no problem helping clients overcome feelings of guilt which would normally bring the client to Confession, thus leaving the client objectively in a state of sin. Some of the terms that hide the evil they promote are the following.

The word ‘contraception’: this is not onply the prevention of pregnancy but sometimes the killing of the new life, and always an active preclusion of parenthood and children. Contraceptives are the only drug Doctors prescribe which is directly geared towards attacking a healthy, normal function; even chemotherapy is given only to kill diseased cells.
The word ‘termination’ hides the reality of direct killing of the unborn child: this is not the terminating of a condition (pregnancy is a state of health, not a disease) but the killing of an individual human life with its own DNA from the moment of fertilisation.
The term ‘fertilised egg’ is (deliberately?) deceptive; it hides the reality of a new, unique human life; a child -once fertilisation has occurred there is no longer an egg by an embryo.
The term ‘Pro-choice’ hides the reality of absolute power over the life of the unborn child: his or her life is ended in order that sexual instincts can be satiated without responsibility being taken; allow a career to be continued, or evade the need to care for an ill or disabled child.
“Care Pathways for the dying” abuses the principle that we can give powerful pain-killing drugs to those who are in pain as long as the dose is only enough to kill the pain and not the person. That said, can we ever be sure that the drug given to our loved one is only given in the amount needed to kill the pain? Is it possible that due to the desire to end pain, coupled with the diminishing recognition of the value of human life that these pathways procure death rather than accompany the patient towards a natural death -how many patients become comatose rather quickly rather than simply pain-free once a syringe driver has been connected..?
The word ‘Euthanasia’ hides the reality of murdering the sick: to end the problem of distress in the dying we are told we can kill the dying person. By application this ‘logic’ would allow us to end the distress of poverty by killing the poor, or kill the lonely who mourn for an irreplaceable loved one. Our duty is to eradicate poverty not the poor, and to assist people through their grief, not help them to avoid it.
The phrase “we had a good time” does not actually mean ‘good’ but pleasurable, and not all pleasure arises from what is good.
“Happiness” is another word that is often wrongly used; a may have a succession of pleasurable events but remain deeply unhappy: having pleasure in life is not the same as being happy.
The word ‘Gay’ hides the reality of a disordered behaviour: ‘gay’ describes a mood, not a sexual inclination, but the word is being used to describe the disposition of someone who is happy to live-out a misdirected sexual inclination.
Use of the word ‘gender’ hides the reality of sexual identity confusion: this term permits for social construction contrary to the biological laws of nature and the social complimentarity and interdependence of the male and female.
The term ‘gender reassignment’ hides the reality of genital mutilation so as to simulate membership of the opposite sex since we cannot actually change a person’s gender: the DNA of the ‘transsexual’ remains that of their birth sex. Even if there came a time when DNA could be manipulated this would be an artificial process; simulation of the opposite sex at a molecular level.
The word ‘partner’ hides the reality of simply having a sexual collaborator: partnership means more than just collaboration in sexual activity and shared living space.
The legal term ‘civil union’ conceals the biological reality that a homosexual ‘union’ cannot exist: a union exists between a nut and a bolt, not between two bolts or two nuts, which cannot be united.

There are other terms used which make wrongful acts sound virtuous, and upon which the above are established as a house on foundations. These include being liberated (which means choosing to put oneself in bondage to one’s instincts and passions); being open-minded (which means having no moral or behavioural boundaries) and being Non-judgemental (which means allowing others to do what they want); it is a re-labelling of self-rule in a way that makes it sound virtuous. In reality it is “I will be able to do whatever I want if I say you have the right to do what you want” -it is not ‘other’ orientated at all, but fundamentally self-oriented –and isn’t that the problem with every one of the above?

Saturday, 12 April 2014

A follow Up to “Choose life: Life Issues & Holy Communion”

A polite email to my inbox asks the following question, which relates to my previous post about life issues: “Why can’t Catholics be less controlling of people’s lives? Why can’t you move with the times and accept homosexuals, contraception, divorced people and those who simply enjoy the pleasure of sex before they are married? These are personal life-style choices of good people; not wicked things done by wicked people”. It is worthwhile answering this question as a post, albeit briefly, and having discussed the issues with Fr Dickson. While intellectual arguments are enough to bring about supernatural Faith, by reason alone one can come to know that God exists (Vatican I) and to an appreciation of the Faith as consistent with reason. Grace alone can bring us to supernatural Faith.

M., I don’t understand your point about the Church controlling people’s lives; all she does is sets out laws for those who wish to join (or remain) in her. The State, on the other hand, does control; it demands we follow its laws and punishes us if we don’t. I’m not sure why you say Catholics should accept homosexuals, divorcees etc, because such people among our families and friends do these and we do accept, value and love them as people. But that doesn’t stop us telling them we can’t accept what they do and see it as seriously damaging their chances of salvation. Simply stated, Catholics are about valuing human life because we are made in God’s image. As such, all that has to do with human life is sacred; we must care for the poor, the marginalised and the sick, but we must also promote and protect the natural transmission of life from womb to tomb, which means there are acts of which we cannot approve. Some acts are nothing less than displacing God’s rule with self-rule.

Contraception can be rejected even on medical and social grounds. Medical grounds are that it does not prevent certain STi’s and long term use of chemical contraception can lead to fertility problems. Social grounds are that it facilitates promiscuity and faithlessness (with all the pain a broken relationship brings) by providing for sex in which one does not get ‘caught’ by pregnancy, which opens the door to adultery. Demographically, having contracepted and aborted so many young people out of existence we now have a society where a proportionately large number of elderly persons is being sustained by a small number of young persons paying the taxes and national insurance necessary for a just welfare system. Religious grounds are that contraception refuses to cooperate with God in the creation of new life, actively attacking its transmission.

Homosexual activity is, like contraception, an unnatural act: it cannot participate in the procreation of the species which is the goal to which intercourse in all living species is geared. With homosexual men an organ of excretion is used as an organ of sex, while among lesbians sexual activity can be no more than mutual masturbation which, in both sexes and even in heterosexual relationships, diminishes the acquisition of self-control and self-mastery of the passions.

Abortion can be rejected on social grounds since all the rights we have, be they to education, employment, a just wage, health care, freedom of speech etc., depend upon us being alive to access such rights. We cannot demand any right be enforced unless we protect the life to which those rights apply. Medically, there is evidence that abortion holds many risks, from perforation of the uterus and infection to an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancers. From a religious standpoint, abortion is the wilful taking of human life, the embryo having human DNA from fertilisation. It may not be self-conscious life (which is how some might define personhood) but neither is the person who is in a coma or asleep, and it is not lawful to kill a sleeping person.

Euthanasia can be rejected on social grounds because it leaves us all open to the possibility of having our life terminated: hospitals seeking organs for donation may not work as hard to save us if human life is devalued in the mind, as it is via abortion and questionable ‘Care Pathways’ for the dying. It also exchanges care of the dying with killing of the dying, turning those trained to preserve, support and enhance life (doctors and nurses) into killers. The ‘logic’ of ending the suffering of the dying by killing the person means we can end the suffering of poverty by killing the poor. Even ‘voluntary euthanasia’ has problems: it can occur because people feel pressured not to be a burden.

IVF arises from the idea that everyone is entitled to a child, yet no one has a right to a child because we cannot have a right to a person. Further, the destruction of ten embryonic children to conceive/birth one is, along with selective reduction (abortion) a disregard for the value of every individual human life.

Divorce with subsequent relationships allows for the dissolution of families and produces a chaotic society wherein Mr Brown leaves Mrs Brown and the Brown children to live with Mrs Smith and the Smith (and Whitely) children, while Mr Smith moves in with Mrs Jones and the Jones (and Moore) children after Mr Jones has gone to live with Mr Gray. Meanwhile, the abandoned Mrs Brown is hoping for Mr X to come along. Not only are children deprived of their natural parent but no adult can enter a relationship feeling permanently valued and secure. Serial cohabitation has the same effects as serial marriage.

I’m guessing you won’t find my reasons acceptable, but they are consonant with reason and not ‘mindless religion’. I think our shepherds simply need to be more clear and consistent. After all, you wouldn’t want your physician to tell you smoking is harmful and you must stop, yet have a cigarette machine in his/her waiting room would you? Such a physician would be hypocritical and an occasion of harm to his/her patients. It is the same for our shepherds: our churches and schools cannot expound evil misuses of life-related acts and at the same time have leaflets in the Church or lessons in school which present them as a social good. That would make us –especially our shepherds- as hypocritical and harmful as the physician who tells patients not to smoke yet provides a cigarette machine in the waiting room.

I hope this helps M. I would ask you to think about the old adage that we are to love the sinner but hate the sin: we are to judge acts, not people, and must never support or promote anything which harms people -that would be the very opposite of loving them. 

Thursday, 10 April 2014

The Church in Bleak Mid Winter

The Church has been consistently shrinking in terms of practise over the past 50 years. Rather than experiencing a new springtime she has entered a severe winter; a period Pope Paul VI called, in an address to the Lombard seminary on 7 December 1968, “a disturbed period of self-criticism, or what would even better be called self-destruction.” I believe one of the reasons for this is that we have presented Almighty God as a “fluffy Father” who hardly takes sin seriously at all: the lapsed are no longer lapsed but “resting”; the transmission of human life is no longer sacred since contraception etc, are but “personal choices”; sinners are only “wounded”, not self-harming; defined doctrine can be debated, and liturgy has focused on uplifting the community rather than on adoring and propitiating Almighty God. But I believe there is another reason why the Church has been shrinking which is not mentioned very much: where we were once the Church of the poor and the working classes we are now the Church of the professional classes.

This came about when we emphasised the need for professionals on our Pastoral Councils, our Finance Committees and our Liturgy Committees, and encouraged laity to gain theology degrees so they could take over parishes. We do need advice and support from professionals, but we focused too heavily on such participation in the belief that equality meant shared roles and ‘power sharing’. In doing so we diminished the authentic role of the laity which is "to have the Gospel spirit permeate and improve the temporal order" (AA 2) penetrating society like leaven (AA 3). Proliferation of Committees displaced the roles traditionally belonging to Joe Bloggs and Jane Smith, who gave splendid pastoral and evangelical witness by the practise of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy as members of the Legion of Mary (LOM) and Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVP). At the same time members built their personal holiness through the disciplined prayer, structured meetings and regulated pastoral action of these great societies. It is not that we are no longer engage in solid pastoral action (soup runs and the like prove we do), but that these lack the formation, structure and stability of the Eucharist-centred, Marian-devoted, evangelical action of the LOM and the prayer, action and witness of the SVP. When these Societies lost ground to Committees we lost exceptional means of perusing personal holiness and of giving witness of the Lord’s love to the localities in which we live. Indeed, the structure, action and pastoral cooperation of laity with the priest in pursuit of holiness and in witness to the Lord’s love brought Pope John XXIII, in an address to the LOM in France on 13 July 1960, to declare that “The Legion of Mary presents the true face of the Catholic Church”. What greater praise -and from a holy Pontiff- can be given? Personally, I believe the LOM and SVP produced thousands of hidden saints.

Prior to today’s ‘renewal’ the Legion of Mary was frequently seen visiting the sick, the housebound and prisoners and doing door-to-door and street-contact work, while the SVP were frequently seen distributing food parcels, financial aid and furniture to the poor, all of which left a very positive impression on the non-catholic community around us and channelled the devotional life of the average Catholic into active charity. As a result, and by their membership of the LOM and SVP, Joe Bloggs and Jane Smith made the Church helpful, attractive and worthy of respect by those outside her. Today, with dwindling numbers of the LOM and SVP, this charity, witness and means of pursuing of holiness as the leaven in the world has all but gone. In-house committees and liturgical roles on the other hand, proliferate. All this paints a picture of the church as “professional” and hidden; inward-looking rather than pastoral and evangelical.

I lament the diminishment of the Legion and the SVP because in losing them we have lost a positive impact on the people with whom we live and work. I would love to see Bishops forcefully promoting these means of perusing holiness and of giving active pastoral witness while pruning back on committees and liturgical activities that, quite honestly, are useful but not absolutely necessary. Bring back the Legion and the SVP! Bring back these great means to achieving personal holiness, of exercising pastoral care and of giving evangelical witness. Bring the working class back into the pastoral action of the Church!

Monday, 7 April 2014

Choose Life: Life Issues & Holy Communion

In debates about how far we can go in accommodating the world, I was struck by some words of Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia (see here ). The Archbishop said,

“Thinking about the relationship of Caesar and God, religious faith and secular authority, is important. It helps us sort through our different duties as Christians and citizens. But on a deeper level, Caesar is a creature of this world, and Christ's message is uncompromising: We should give Caesar nothing of ourselves. Obviously we're in the world. That means we have obligations of charity and justice to the people with whom we share it. Patriotism is a virtue. Love of country is an honourable thing..But God made us for more than the world. Our real home isn't here. The point of today's Gospel passage is not how we might calculate a fair division of goods between Caesar and God. In reality, it all belongs to God and nothing - at least nothing permanent and important - belongs to Caesar. Why? Because just as the coin bears the stamp of Caesar's image, we bear the stamp of God's image in baptism. We belong to God, and only to God.

I think we are selling out the image of God within us by accommodating the world. For example, the Lord gives no place to same-sex ‘marriages’, so we say we have no place for them either –yet go on to say “but we accept civil ‘unions’”. That is sophistry. We say we don’t accept civil ‘marriage’ after divorce, but describe some such ‘marriages’ as good ‘marriages’. That is double-speak. We say we want our children protected from impurity; that we uphold the parent’s right to form them in sexuality according to the capacity of the child, but we then go on to support mandatory education in schools on homosexuality, contraception and abortion. That is a contradiction. What are we playing at compromising the Gospel in this way? Why engage in such sophistry, double-speak and contradictory antics? I think it all arises from one of five causes (you can probably add more). Is it

One, that we (and our shepherds) are not convinced of the Church’s wisdom; that we think the world might have got it right and should be followed by the Church.
Two, that we (and our shepherds) do not believe the Church’s teaching is unchanging Truth from the unchanging God (both of the above demonstrate a loss of faith in the Church).
Three, that we (and our shepherds) have become so lost in attending to social needs that we have forgotten spiritual realities.
Four, that we (and our shepherds) have become so eager to have the Church accepted by the world that we are willing to compromise the Gospel in order to achieve that acceptance.
or Five, that we (and our shepherds) have lost our faith, period.

None of us can claim to be a fount of all wisdom, but we can all offer some solution to the contemporary problem of accommodating the Gospel to the world –indeed we may be obliged to offer one if we have made a criticism or are guilty of moaning about troubles: we cannot criticise or bemoan a problem while making no attempt to be part of a solution. My solution would be for Catholic Shepherds to make a clear statement that

The Catholic Faith applies reason to Divine Revelation so that the end goal –salvation- can be attained. This applies to issues of human life and sexuality. While we cannot and will not judge people we can and must judge, and refuse to cooperate with, acts contrary to the teaching of Christ; acts which do not protect and promote human life in all its stages and its natural transmission. These include not only oppression of the poor, the sick and the marginalised, but sex outside of marriage, contraception, homosexual acts, abortion, euthanasia, IVF, serial “marriages” and school-based sex education of our children. All of these make shipwreck of a person’s Faith and objectively militate against salvation. To identify as a Catholic in union with the Church and receive Holy Communion, one must be in a state of grace and free from the above sins.

Having made such a statement, benefits will follow: our shepherds will be obliged to act on their words in order to avoid charges of hypocrisy; governments will know they face confrontation on moral issues; priests at the coal face will know they can rely on the support of the Bishops; the people will know where we stand in claiming to follow conscience rather than the Church.

I cannot help but wonder if our shepherds are too faithless, too cowardly, too darkened by Satan, or just too dazzled by the false lights of the world (Opening Collect, Sunday 15) to live-out what we have received from previous generations. Or do we need to add pride to the list of causes of our failure; pride that the generations from the 60’s onwards are the first to have understood the Gospel and its endorsement of contraception, abortion, homosexual acts and serial marriage? I can hear a chorus of voices saying, “No we have just become more compassionate and person-centred”. Well, I wonder how compassionate it is to give potassium-rich foods to the renal patient or cigarettes to the COPD patient, I wonder how compassionate it is to support people in living by their subjective opinions rather than The Truth (Christ). Genuine compassion would not give patients harmful foods, nor does a sound shepherd favour subjective opinion over the Gospel and our Tradition, which are God’s vehicles of objective Truth. 

Friday, 4 April 2014

Considerations on the Greg Pope Letter

The letter addressed by Greg Pope (GP) to Catholic MPs saying the Bishops have no plans to withhold Holy Communion from those who voted for same–sex “marriage” (my speech marks) quickly followed Bishop Egan’s statement that to deny Holy Communion to Catholics who promote anti-life, anti-marriage measures is an act of mercy; a medicinal measure. GP’s letter is fine as far as it goes, as is the affirmation by Fr Stock that it was issued with the support of the Bishops. But I wonder if there isn’t more to be said. The Bishops may not be planning to deny Holy Communion, but it has to be a consideration at some point along the line if we are to shepherd souls in the Way of Christ and the Gospel of life, otherwise we will not be shepherds as much as hirelings. As it stands, Bishop Egan is canonically correct since Canon Law forbids Holy Communion to those in manifest grave sin. He is pastorally right too, since to receive Our Lord when objectively in a state of sin is to commit sacrilege, and allowing a soul to commit repeated sacrilege is to endanger that soul.

I constantly hope for strong words from the Bishops; words which exhort Catholic MP’s who vote for (and Catholics in the media who promote) anti-life, anti-marriage and corrupting education in homosexuality and contraception et al, to change their ways for the sake of their salvation. I hope to hear words exhorting such folk to follow Canon 916 which requires them to refrain from receiving Holy Communion until they change and go to Confession. But how long can such exhortations continue without invoking Canon 915 which places the onus on the shepherd not to admit such folk to Holy Communion? It is hard to say. But if Catholic MPs (and Catholics in the media and public life) continue to vote for or promote anti-life, anti-family measures, there must come a time when their access to Holy Communion is forbidden -not to punish them, and not to simply avoid scandal or even to promote the Gospel, but to safeguard the souls of those who receive and those who allow them to receive when they publicly act contrary to the Gospel. I honestly wonder if it will be enough for those of us with shepherding responsibilities to stand before the Lord and say, “We asked them not to receive” when it is the duty of shepherds to actively ensure the sacraments are protected from sacrilege (isn’t that why the Blessed Sacrament is in a fixed, locked tabernacle and the Holy Oils in a locked cupboard?)

The question arising for me is this: if the Bishops do not exclude from Holy Communion those who publicly exercise their power and influence in ways opposed to the Gospel, will they support parish priests who make that decision? They will not penalise us, because we will be acting in accord with the law of the Church, but will they wholeheartedly support us? I hope so.

I think it is time we as a Catholic community unambiguously declare that sex outside of marriage, contraception, homosexual acts, civil “remarriage” after divorce, IVF, embryonic stem cell research, abortion and euthanasia are all objectively evil acts (that is, they lack the good that ought to be present). We must of course be clear that it is the acts we are judging, not people, and equally clear that denying Holy Communion to those who engage in or promote such acts is a work of mercy which seeks to bring such folk to an awareness of the mortal danger to which they expose their soul, thereby encouraging them to return to the Way marked out for us by Christ and the constant teaching and practice of His Church. Once this has been reiterated clearly and with a united voice, our Bishops can refer back to it when they are questioned and when Catholics in public life act contrary to the Gospel and the eternal good of man. At present, too many Catholics seem to seek nothing more than acceptance of the Church by a secular world. Well, woe unto those of whom the world speaks well, says the Lord.

Post Script. Yes, sins against charity are also gravely wrong; there ought never to be marginalisation of people so that a community of poor, dispossessed people arises. As such we must denounce what we see as laws which dispossess, marginalise and oppress sections of the community as vigorously as we denounce sins associated with the marriage act, all the while actively caring for those who have been dispossessed, marginalised and oppressed. Unfortunately fiscal laws are of prudential judgement and difficult to ‘police’; indeed, it is not for the Church to support any political party or policy per se, she can only comment on policies. But acts which are directly contrary to the permanence, fidelity, exclusivity and life-giving properties of the sacrament of marriage are individual concrete acts which directly violate the sacred and therefore individual penalties can and ought to be applied for the good of souls, be they souls who administer the law or those souls subject to the law.